US Sailors to See Improved Opportunities As Force Balance Improves

US Sailors to See Improved Opportunities As Force Balance Improves

Top-performing Sailors will see more opportunities to convert, reenlist, and advance as a result of the Navy’s use of force management tools such as the Enlisted Retention Board and Perform-to-Serve, Navy leaders said Jan. 3.

“We have the highest quality Sailors and the most capable force in our Navy’s history,” said Chief of Naval Personnel Vice Adm. Scott Van Buskirk. “Sailors are increasingly looking at our Navy as a great long-term career choice. While high retention is positive and has resulted in the best trained, most capable, and most highly motivated force in our history, we must continue to ensure we retain the right mix of people so that our workforce matches our warfighting requirements, now and into the future. Programs such as Perform-to-Serve and the Enlisted Retention Board have enabled those mutual goals.”

“Because of the strides made by PTS and ERB in balancing the force, barring significant changes to our force structure, the Navy will not need to conduct an ERB in 2013 or 2014,” continued Van Buskirk.

High retention and low attrition within the Navy led to some ratings being overmanned, which resulted in hardworking, experienced Sailors not being able to advance or reenlist in their ratings. At the same time, the Navy still lacked Sailors in ratings critical to meeting its mission. Increasing the challenge, the Navy has recently shifted nearly 6,800 billets back to sea, changing the mix of skills and experience required of Sailors.

In addition to voluntary separation programs, the Navy uses programs such as PTS to help balance the force by matching the workforce to the fleet’s job requirements. PTS is the Navy’s primary system for managing personnel to ensure the Navy maintains a balanced, experienced force. PTS manages balance between ratings so that each rating has their authorized share of personnel. PTS also manages balance within a rating by keeping the right number of top performers in each year group to match experience with mission requirements without gaps. PTS also ensures the highest-performing Sailors have the opportunity to convert, reenlist and advance.

Yet, with so many Sailors desiring to stay Navy, PTS was becoming over-burdened. Many overmanned ratings had limited PTS opportunity, which meant even the strongest performing Sailors faced tough competition and reduced chances to re-enlist and advance. Because PTS only affects those Sailors approaching a re-enlistment decision or requiring additional obligated service, timing had become a critical factor, adding pressure to the PTS system.

To relieve the pressure on Sailors in a PTS reenlistment window, the Navy created the ERB as an additional force management tool. The ERB became necessary to ensure the Navy could reduce the overmanned ratings while converting many Sailors to under manned ratings to fill gaps. The ERB reviewed the records of roughly 16,000 Sailors in the 31 most overmanned ratings to fill a limited number of retention quotas. Unlike PTS, the ERB considered all eligible Sailors in these ratings, not just the ones in a PTS window.

According to Van Buskirk, Sailors will see significant changes in advancement opportunity due to the ERB.

“Before we conducted the ERB, opportunities for Sailors to advance to E5 and E6 in the 31 eligible ratings were extremely limited,” said Van Buskirk. “Because the ERB will reduce overmanning in these ratings, more Sailors will advance to E4, E5, and E6 in the coming advancement cycles. In fact, advancements in the ERB ratings are projected to be slightly above the Navy-wide average for the next two to three cycles.”

ERB and PTS have also placed many talented Sailors in undermanned ratings, a step that was critical in meeting the mission, said Van Buskirk.

“Because we have reduced our overmanned ratings, the Navy is making strides in improving undermanning in other ratings,” said Van Buskirk. “Through PTS and the ERB, nearly 1,200 Sailors have converted from overmanned to undermanned ratings in the past year. Putting talented Sailors into these undermanned ratings enables us to meet our mission requirements while easing the unusually high operational demands on Sailors currently in these ratings.”

Sailors are also seeing increased opportunities in PTS. PTS was significantly changed in October to refocus on performance and reduce the impact of a Sailor’s timing on re-enlistment approval. Top performers in every rating and year group will now have the opportunity for reenlistment approval, even when a rating is overmanned.

“While PTS and ERB have been difficult pills to swallow for our Sailors, they are necessary tools to balance the effects of excessively high retention,” said Van Buskirk. “We are beginning to see increased reenlistment opportunity and better advancement opportunity as a result of improved force balance, but we know that these benefits are of little comfort to Sailors and their families who are separating. That is why we’re committed to providing Sailors who must separate the best transition support tools and assistance possible so they can succeed in their civilian careers.”

Naval Today Staff , January 05, 2012; Image: navy